April 30, 2020

DEAN PARKER 1947-2020

Editor    posted 20 Apr 2020, 11:49 AM / edited 20 Apr 2020, 11:54 AM


[Sourced from Playmarket]

Dean Parker 1947-2020 [Photo by Philip Merry ]

The death yesterday (14 April 2020) of Dean Parker, one of New Zealand’s most successful screenwriters and playwrights, was announced by Murray Lynch, Director of Playmarket, the playwright’s agent.  

Dean Parker was born in Napier in 1947 of mainly Irish ancestry.  Educated at Napier Marist and Hastings St John’s, he worked as a writer for much of his life and was prominent in his union, the New Zealand Writer’s Guild. Dean wrote extensively for stage, radio, television and film.  

With over fifty plays in his catalogue at Playmarket, the New Zealand playwrights’ agency, Parker’s playwriting career spans from Smack, his first play produced at Downstage in 1974, to the production of Wonderful which recently had a season at Welington’s Circa Theatre.

His plays provoke and entertain audiences while examining New Zealand’s political history and the political perspective of individuals. In 1988 he wrote; “I would describe myself as a class-conscious writer. I’m with Lenin. I’m for the working class seizing control of the wealth it creates, for the replacement of parliament, the army, the police, the judiciary – all those deadly manacles of state control – with workers’ committees and militias, and all this done as part of a world-wide struggle.” He wrote plays set on a factory shop floor, within the National Party caucus, war-ravaged Baghdad, the New Zealand Legation in Moscow, and the story of Robert Muldoon.

His plays include adaptations of Great Expectations, The Trial, The Hollow Men and Other People’s Wars. Other notable plays include The Man That Lovelock Couldn’t Beat, Baghdad, Baby!, The Tigers of Wrath, The Perfumed Garden and Slouching Toward Bethlehem.

Midnight in Moscow which The Press reviewer Alan Scott called “entertaining and thought-provoking” and “one of his best to date”, had a tumultuous start in its premiere at The Court Theatre in Christchurch where it was playing on 22 February 2011 when the earthquake hit. This was his most successful stage play, productions followed at the Auckland Theatre Company and Wellington’s Circa Theatre. [See also a review of the published script.]

[In April 2019 his play Who Killed Blair Peach? was performed at the Grey Lynn RSA.]

Parker has won awards for his screenwriting including for co-writing (with Ian Mune) the successful big-screen comedy adaptation of Ronald Hugh Morrieson’s Came a Hot Friday. In the 1970s he wrote for such pioneering New Zealand television series as Close to Home, Buck House and Mortimer’s Patch. His adaptation for the small screen of Ngaio Marsh’s Opening Night was the first New Zealand television drama to be screened in America.

His television work includes the Welsh-Kiwi rugby tale Old Scores,which Parker co-wrote with Greg McGee. With McGee he co-created the ‘80s trucking series Roche, and the goldmining drama Gold, a co-production between New Zealand and Canada. He worked on episodes of police drama Mortimer’s Patch and Betty’s Bunch.He also wrote extensively for NZBC Radio and its successor, Radio New Zealand. [Theatreview will review two of his radio plays this month.]

He also contributed to the New Zealand Listener and the New Zealand Herald.

In recent years he regularly produced readings of his work and celebrations of Bloomsday in Auckland venues, many of these with his friends Lynn Lorkin and the Jews Brothers band.

Parker was named a Laureate by the Arts Foundation in 2010 and was the inaugural winner in 2012 of the Playmarket Award given to a playwright for significant artistic contribution to theatre in New Zealand.

In 2017 he turned to prose fiction writing Johnson, a sequel to John Mulgan’s Man Alone.

He had just completed a stage adaptation of The Plague by Albert Camus the day before he died.

He lived in Auckland with his partner Isabel. They have one son, Emmet.

DEAN PARKER (an incomplete list)

Workmanlike right back for the Halt All Racist Tours (HART) soccer team 1976-1986 (winners of Auckland Football Association Open Grade titles 1977-78, 1983-84) and then crafty manager 1987-1991.

Writers’ Guild delegate to Federation of Labour / Council of Trade Unions through 1980s, 1990s.

Editorial board Saoirse, 1982-2000.

Editorial board Workers’ Charter, 2006-.


Smack (Downstage 1974) Two Fingers From Frank Zappa (Downstage 1975) Slippery Opera (The Depot 1982) Great Expectations (Tantrum, Auckland 1988) The Feds (stage: Bats 1989) Tonite Let’s All Make Love In London (Downstage 2000) Jews Brothers’ Bloomsday (Rakino’s. The Dog’s Bollix amd The Thirsty Dog, 2001—2019) Baghdad, Baby! (Bats, 2005) Frank Kafka’s The Trial (adapted from Kafka, Luxembourg Gardens, 2007) Enemies (adapted from Gorky, Studio Seven Wellington, 2007)


Joe Stalin Knew My Father (BCNZ 1973) Where Have You Gone, Wilson Whineray, Lake Taupo Turns Its Lonely Eye To You (BCNZ 1973) Smack (BCNZ 1974) Never A Dull Moment (BCNZ 1974)

The Last Three Days (BCNZ 1974) Corrie Pulls It Off (BCNZ 1975) The Wars Of The Rosaries (BCNZ 1975) Engels F : A History Of The Ould Sod (BCNZ 1978) The Paper Sellers (BCNZ 1980)

Erua (BCNZ 1980) Strike! Waihi, 1912 (BCNZ 1980) Strike! Auckland Relief Workers, 1932 (BCNZ 1980) Strike! Hellaby’s, 1942 (BCNZ 1980) April 25 (RNZ, 2007)


Buck House (TVNZ 1975) Thirty Minute Theatre : The Touch Of Class (SPTV 1976) Thirty Minute Theatre : Rugby Burns (SPTV 1976) Something To Look Forward To (SPTV 1976) Ngaio Marsh Theatre : Opening Night (SPTV 1978) Close To Home (TVNZ 1979) Both Sides Of The Fence (SPTV 1981) Mortimer’s Patch (TVNZ 1983) Roche (TVNZ 1985) Betty’s Bunch (SPP 1989) Shattered Dreams (Trade Union History Project 1990) Gold (SPP 1991) Just Slightly, A People Apart: The Irish in NZ (Top Shelf 1995) Mysterious Island (Atlantis 1995) Cover Story (Gibson Group 1995) Share The Dream (Hampster Films 1997) Greenstone (Communicado 1999) Street Legal (Screen Works 2000) Moana (Ellipse France 2000)


Came A Hot Friday (Mirage Films 1984) Gordon Bennett (Top Shelf [short film] 1989) Old Scores (Cinepro/HTV 1989) The Vector File (Daybreak Films [uncredited] 2001)


1979 Best Radio Drama, Engels F, A History of the Ould Sod

1985 Best Film Screenplay, with Ian Mune, Came A Hot Friday

1990 Best Film Screenplay, with Greg McGee, Old Scores

1998 Best Television Drama Script, Share the Dream.

2010 Arts Laureate

2012 Playmarket Award


Editor    posted 20 Apr 2020, 11:55 AM


Dean Parker

1947 – 2020

NZWG is greatly saddened by the death of writer and activist Dean Parker, who died suddenly in Auckland on Tuesday at the age of 72.

Dean was one of the founders of the New Zealand Writers Guild. A life member and committed unionist, the central place of workers and workers’ rights was a guiding passion in all he did.

Of Irish extraction, Dean was born in Napier and was a long-time Auckland resident. As a writer, he straddled and mastered many forms, writing for screen, stage, radio and print media. Well-known for feature film comedy Came a Hot Friday, award-winning television dramas Share the Dream and Life’s a Riot and numerous plays including The Hollow Men, Baghdad Baby, and Other People’s Wars, Dean’s career spanned five decades and looked set to continue. He completed a new play just before he died.

Acknowledged by his peers as a leading dramatist, Dean was named an Arts Foundation Laureate in 2010 for his original body of work for theatre, television and film, and was the 2012 inaugural winner of Playmarket’s award for career-long achievement by a playwright. Dean was a committed socialist with a bedrock sense of social justice that he applied in his life and in his work. He believed in workers controlling the wealth they create, and was a proud trade unionist. Indeed, our guild, the NZ Writers Guild, would not exist without him.

We are grateful for his fundamental work in uniting and organising writers to improve pay and conditions, and we continue to build on his legacy.

We honour Dean’s contribution to our craft and our profession and we will miss him greatly.

Editor    posted 27 Apr 2020, 09:15 AM / edited 27 Apr 2020, 09:15 AM

Obituary: Dean Parker, prolific playwright and ‘script doctor’

Paul Maunder05:00, Apr 27 2020

Playwright Dean Parker was a prolific writer, but often struggled to get his plays produced.


Dean Parker: playwright; b August 20, 1947; d April 14, 2020

In the midst of the coronavirus melodrama, normal life and death processes seem to be suspended or unnoticed. Hospitals are vacant and doctors’ surgeries sparsely attended. But playwright Dean Parker has died unexpectedly, and the fact must be recorded, outside his bubble.

Parker, who was 72, was a prolific writer of the well-crafted, three-act play (so prolific he has at least 38 titles to his credit).

His career paralleled that other writer of well-crafted plays, Roger Hall. But whereas Hall has written about the foibles of the Kiwi middle and wannabe middle class (who tend to be the theatre goers) and as a consequence achieved popularity with that mainstream audience, Parker was a leftie who wrote about political subjects and social contradiction, so had a career-long struggle getting his plays produced. [More]

Editor    posted 30 Apr 2020, 06:22 PM / edited 30 Apr 2020, 06:27 PM

Please join us for a May Day Singalong at 5pm on Mayday Friday May 1st – a memorial event for our mate Dean Parker, unionist and playwright.

Following is the link and the invitation to the May Day Sing Along on Friday 🙂


The Zoom facility helpfully provided by a wonderful union and supported by the Republic of Grey Lynn Community Choir.

We will MC the event with Choir Master Denise Roche leading the songs. 

Please join with your Microphones muted.

Just click on the above link and follow the instructions.

If you haven’t used Zoom before it will download and install a small item which will then run and allow you to participate using Zoom. You will need to be using a Desktop, or Laptop, or Tablet

Just in case you have forgotten the words click here to download the songs.

Editor    posted 13 Apr 2021, 12:56 PM / edited 23 Nov 2021, 12:05 PM

On the eve of the anniversary of Dean Parker’s untimely death, Playmarket has published this splendid tribute from Director Murray Lynch.


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